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How IV Therapy Can Help Treat Gastrointestinal Illnesses

If you are stricken with food poisoning or a viral or bacterial gastrointestinal illness, you may develop severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because of this, you may be unable to eat or hold food and liquids down. If this happens to you, your physician may recommend that you go to the hospital, where you can get treated with IV therapy. Also known as intravenous therapy, IV therapy often results in a rapid resolution of symptoms. Here are some ways intravenous therapy can help you feel better while you are struggling with the symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness. 

Fluid Replacement

Prolonged vomiting and diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration, especially if you are unable to drink fluids. This can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, renal problems, weakness, and decreased blood volume.

Intravenous fluid replacement quickly rehydrates the body to increase blood volume and to prevent sodium levels from increasing. When your sodium levels become too high, it is known as hypernatremia. Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, increased thirst, dry mouth, changes in levels of consciousness, lethargy, decreased urinary output, and a fast heart rate. During your intravenous treatment, your physician will monitor your sodium levels so that your IV fluid treatment can be altered as needed. 

Electrolyte Therapy

Dehydration caused by severe vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to electrolyte loss. Gastrointestinal illness can lead to the loss of potassium and magnesium, and if not replaced through intravenous electrolyte replacement therapy, a life-threatening condition known as metabolic acidosis can develop.

Hypokalemia can also be attributed to severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. Also known as a low serum potassium level, hypokalemia can cause muscle cramps, an abnormal heartbeat, weakness, lethargy, muscle spasms, and numbness and tingling.

If your serum potassium is too low, intravenous potassium will usually correct it within a few days or so. While your serum potassium levels may normalize after your IV treatment, it may take a while longer before your symptoms fully disappear. While most people tolerate intravenous electrolyte treatment well, some may notice burning sensations when IV potassium is inserted into the vein. 

If you develop a gastrointestinal illness and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, call your doctor right away. If you are unable to eat or drink, your physician may recommend hospitalization so that you can begin IV treatment. In most cases, people recover quickly and are able to return home after a day or so. 

For more information on IV therapy, reach out to a local medical center.